I’m a field worker for the US Census, basically the lowest position in the bureau. I’m one of the guys who’s knocking on doors and getting information either in preparation of or for the 2020 Census in the United States. We’ve been trained to answer any questions that citizens we encounter may ask in regards to why we’re knocking on your door, what information we’re collecting, and why we’re bothering you before it’s even 2020. I want to help people have a better understanding of who we are and what we need from you, so feel free to ask me anything!

Proof: https://imgur.com/gallery/WicBoMK

Edit: Turns out there’s actually thousands of field workers, 800 is just a number I pulled off this website page which apparently was published in March.

Edit: A few key points discussed in the first few days and answers to the most asked questions:

— Between now and October 4th, a census worker is likely to come to your house and they will literally only to ask for your address and see if any apartments or units were added to your property. After that, the best way to avoid us in the future is to fill out the questionnaire (which will be done entirely digitally this time by means that vary by county) as soon as possible.

— As of right now, I do not have the questions that will be asked next year. Some people have found sample questions or speculated questions on the Census website and other government sites. As a census data collector, I am sworn to keep any information I get confidential and only give it to my supervisor. We do not have the authority to call ICE or anyone besides pass the info along to the bureau.

— Census data is only released to the public in the form of statistics. These stats are used for a number of important decisions. The biggest is determining number of senate seats, massive budgeting decisions, demographic accommodation, etc. The reason questions regarding personal info such race or legal status are in place is so your local government knows how to serve you. (A lot of great discussion is down below regarding this.)

— If no one answers the door or we are physically threatened or otherwise sense we are in danger, we skip the house and report it to our supervisor. What happens after that I don’t know.

— The first thing census workers do when we speak to anyone is say who we are, display our government issued badge, and hand you a notice listing your confidentiality rights before we ask any questions. If you see one of us, we’ll also be wearing a shoulder bag with the Census logo right on the front and probably carrying a laptop.

— If you refuse to answer the census questions, you may be fined up to $100. Lying on a census can be up to $500. Many people have asked if they can just pay the fine so we don’t bother them, and the answer is I don’t know. Obviously I prefer you answer us so we can get as accurate of data as possible, but I dont know about prepaying fines.

— The first part of our training as workers was a history of the census, including negative uses such as the 3/5 rule prior to the Civil War. The reason for this training was so we know how the census was misused in the past and how it has progressed to be much more inclusive and equal.

— I have nothing to do with political leadership, presidential elections, or immigration policies. I’m literally a dude trying to find out your address.

— I personally have over 2 years of experience knocking doors for Domino’s, DoorDash, and as a missionary. I have a lot of experience doing this sort of things and am no longer afraid of the crazies.

Comments: 267 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

AManBehindYou95 karma

There are only 800 people that do the actually door knocking? I would have thought it a lot more.

Davecasa44 karma

Most people respond to the census by mail, door knockers only come if you don't reply. In 2020 I understand you'll be able to respond online, including at libraries for those who don't have internet access at home (~20% of Americans).

obsessedcrf19 karma

those who don't have internet access at home (~20% of Americans).

Hard to imagine for some reason

Ben-Stanley10 karma

We were told that the 2020 census will be the first completely digital census. A lot of people will complete it through their jobs.

davisyoung3 karma

I’ve already responded online because I don’t want some jerk showing up at my door, no offense, OP.

SteveSonOfJobs2 karma

I don't think he can't take it as such

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Nope. I know people don’t like to be bothering in their homes, so no offense can be taken

Ben-Stanley39 karma

Okay so I literally just pulled that number off the website but apparently 800 were hired as of March. Thousands are employed now. (I would edit my post title now if I could)

PoorEdgarDerby7 karma

He’s doing the preliminary work. Most will do their household info by mail. If an address isn’t answered by I think April 1 2020 that address gets visited by a new door knocker. They’re called census enumerators. I did that role in 2010.

It’s important to note it is by address, not people. Many of my visits were vacant. But I wouldn’t know who lived there til they told me.

Overall easy work. I was marginally employed at the time. Very good wage for the time. Money made my summer.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Bingo. My title at this particular moment is address lister, and then I will presumably be a enumerator next year. And you’re right about addresses. We have to know every address that exists so that we can survey it properly.

WolfKids2833 karma

Are you scared someone's gonna come to the door naked or something?

Ben-Stanley105 karma

I’ve delivered pizzas, worked for DoorDash, and knocked doors as a missionary for a combined total of 2 years. I got over that fear a long time ago.

Buuuut to insert an anecdote, I have only had the door answered by a naked person once... he was 2 though.

sooprvylyn17 karma

You aren't delivering pizzas, you are knocking on the doors of people who are purposefully not filling out those census forms. Some of them are scared, some of them are.crazy, some are dangerous..we are talking gun toting tin foil hat motherfuckers. Be careful.

Source: did 2000 census canvasing in a rural college town. Had weapons pulled on me several times by people who thought the census was some nefarious govt tracking plot. These days you will also have scared illegal aliens in some of those houses. Just be careful...and don't wax legal with these guys about how they have to answer the questions, it ain't worth it.

Edit...mostly posting this for other potential canvassers since there will be many who might read this, especially in lower income or rural areas.

Ben-Stanley2 karma

Oh you’re absolutely right. But I do have prior experience having been a missionary. The difference between being a pizza boy and being a missionary is one one hand, people know who you are, what you’re doing, and are expecting you; whereas as a missionary it’s the opposite. We are given these shoulder bags which we’re told to have in front of our bodies so that it displays the massive UNITED STATES 2020 CENSUS logo so people have some idea what we want.

FeetBowl3 karma

Funny, i did get missionary vibes from your photo.

Ben-Stanley3 karma

🤷🏻‍♂️ Can’t help it.

Beaglescout1533 karma

How do you reassure people that you're not ICE coming to detain them? I think now more than ever there would be a mistrust if government representatives among immigrant communities.

Ben-Stanley62 karma

So while we are government employees, the information we collect is strictly disclosed only in the form of statistics. Under Title 13 of the US Code, we can’t reveal any specific information until 72 years have passed.

As for reassuring, we actually hand a physical copy of the Title 13 rights and laws to anyone we contact before we ask any questions. It details how any information is used and the penalties we as census takers would face should we disclose it to anyone besides our supervisors. The first thing we’re supposed to say on the doorstep is who we are and physically acknowledge our official ID badge.

dkl415116 karma

Thanks for your insights. Japanese Internment used census data, which the Census Bureau denied for decades. https://beta.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/04/03/secret-use-of-census-info-helped-send-japanese-americans-to-internment-camps-in-wwii/?outputType=amp

Everyone should answer the census for representation and budgeting purposes, but historically the Census Bureau has complied with other government agencies' requests for data.

gumgum-5 karma

As I said above - the census data aids government control over the population - if it was absolutely truly ONLY for the innocent purposes of making budgeting decisions etc. it would be totally anonymous with zero personal information collected even related to an address. The moment there is any information that connects a particular person to a location, or other information, it is no longer innocent.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I 100% see where people are coming from about anonymity, but what most people don’t know is that census records in there entirety are released to the public after 72 years. So any info we collect next year will be available in 2082. Why is this the case? Pretty much entirely for historical uses and heritage intrigue. Sites like Ancestry get a pretty good sized chunk of their date from century-old census records. It reveals so much about your ancestors’ lives and who they were. Heck, even some parts of the Old Testament are strait-up censuses.

Obviously I’m a lot more passionate about this than most people, but I find the purpose of the census to be pretty important both for the present and the future.

gumgum1 karma

if there was absolutely ZERO way to connect the information collected to you as an individual I'd be all for it. The information is important for all kinds of reasons. HOWEVER governments historically do not have a good track record of behaviour when they collect information about citizens. Want to round up all the Jews - just look at the census records and see who registered their faith. Or as in the US - want to lock up all the foreign nationals of the country you are at war with (Japan) use the census to come knocking on their door. Governments find ways to use information that are harmful to citizens. Stopping them once they have the information is much harder than just stopping them from having the information in the first place. Stand up for your right to privacy!

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Yeah so I’ve talked about this a few times on this post. The first part of our training was a history of the census and how it was used unethically in the past. The purpose of the training being that we understand the mistakes made in the past and how the census has evolved to be inclusive and private.

As for standing up for your privacy rights, one of the first things we do when we contact people is hand them a physical copy of your privacy rights detailing all the laws protecting your privacy and the immense consequences we as census workers face should we disclose info to anyone besides our supervisor.

Beaglescout1511 karma

That's great! Although I do think vulnerable people are rightly distrustful, especially these days. I'm assuming you have materials in different languages. I wish you and the other census workers well. Now more than ever, it's so important for everyone to be counted, especially marginalized and vulnerable people like the homeless, economically disadvantaged, people of color, and immigrants. Thank you for doing this!

Ben-Stanley13 karma

As I mentioned in another comment, my little training group alone is a wide variety (of races, ages, etc). And yes! We have our confidentiality statements in English, Spanish and German (the three most spoken language in Virginia), and I personally was hired because I have some knowledge in American Sign Language and Deaf culture, because there are a lot of Deaf on the east coast.

But you’re absolutely right that literally all people are to be counted no matter who they are. Our training included a through history of the census, including things like the 3/5 rule before the Civil War, and basically how much the culture of the Census has changed to be as inclusive as possible.

cuteman10 karma

What happens if they can't read English?

Ben-Stanley21 karma

In my case, we have confidentiality statements in English, Spanish, and German (the most common languages in Virginia, where I work). I also was hired in part because I have a moderate amount of knowledge of American Sign Language and Deaf culture, and there are a lot of Deaf communities on the east coast. I can’t personally confirm this, but I’m certain they will have all the census documents in 15+ languages as they did in 2010. I would imagine census takers in, say, California and New York have a lot more materials to fit the needs of the cultures there.

Or, if you’re meaning that they speak English but can’t read (or are blind), we simply read the document to them. It’s not too long. I personally have taken it upon myself to learn how to interpret the document into sign language in the event I meet a deaf person who can’t read English (which a lot of people don’t realize is possible).

comradequicken1 karma

Whereabouts in Virginia? I just move here so you might be censusing me.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Bedford/Rockbridge/Amherst counties. That general area. My training office is in Roanoke.

Bran_Solo6 karma

I am a completely legal immigrant, but if a census employee knocks on my door I'm first going to shit myself and then debate whether I lie to you.

Technically there might be all sorts of laws and policies forbidding the use of census data to personally identify immigrants, but practically speaking it's another federal government interview from an administration that all immigrants should be very weary of.

I am a permanent resident now (green card) but if I were still on a less-permanent visa I'd be shitting bricks to get a census employee at my door.

redworm9 karma

Your concern is justified but please try to remember that without counting you in the census your area has fewer resources and less power in the federal government to change the laws in such a way that we can properly protect immigrants from the abuses happening today.

It's a tough choice.

Ben-Stanley2 karma

⬆️ I could not have answered any better than this.

redworm2 karma

I was a field worker last time, I got really lucky because I lived in Chicago and got assigned two high rises on my block.

Being able to speak fluent Spanish and explain to people how their info would be used was useful. Plus it was easier because no one but tea party dumb fucks thought Obama was going to throw them in a fema camp.

Ben-Stanley3 karma

I know quite a bit of American Sign Language and live in Virginia where there is a huge Deaf population so I’m excited to hopefully be able to use it! That’s cool about you using Spanish.

Also, since I’m in a semi-rural town, sometimes it sucks driving a bit to communities, but I do get paid for travel time and compensated for mileage, which is nice.

Bran_Solo0 karma

It's really not a tough choice for anyone who is actually in this situation.

Best case scenario, the federal government that is currently villainizing immigrants and locking them up in internment camps has a miraculous change of heart and they have marginally more information on how to help immigrants in my area.

Worst case scenario, I'm deported and my daughter (American citizen) is taken away from me.

What's difficult about this choice?

redworm2 karma

I disagree on the best case scenario but I can understand how someone in that situation would be more legitimately concerned with the immediate case rather than the long term effects.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I think most people don’t realize that the federal government doesn’t just have free access to census date. The president can’t just open up a google doc and see who he feels like deporting that day. It really doesn’t work like that. I really don’t know how it does actually work, but I do know that federal government can only access census data temporarily under very extreme circumstances.

frankenshark4 karma

Title 13 rights sound swell ! Are there special Title 13 courts to efficiently adjudicate these rights? Will there be court-appointed counsel for people who can't afford a lawyer to protect their Title 13 rights? In the case someone suspects that their Title 13 rights have been violated, will the government's attitude not be: "fuck off, hire a lawyer and sue us for 10 years" ?

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I honestly don’t know the answer to this, but a brief googling might shed some light.

qxzj12791 karma

Why 72 years? Why can my information be released in full in 2092, but not 2091? That seems like an arbitrary amount of time. Why not 50 years? Or 100?

collin30009 karma

That number was likely decided using actuarial tables for the average life length

Ben-Stanley1 karma

On the nose. I don’t know that for a fact, but that was exactly my and my supervisor’s guess.

And if you want to know why it’s released at all, it’s primarily for genealogical (family history) purposes. My mom is a semi-professional genealogist and census records are a saving grace to see when and where someone’s ancestor lived. Heck, even part of the Old Testament is a census.

JohnnyMcCrispy-50 karma


Ben-Stanley16 karma

This comment seems wildly inappropriate for an AMA of a rookie statistician.

bean0bean27 karma

How do I confirm that the person knocking on my door asking for personal information is truly working for the census bureau? Anyone could make a badge and claim to be doing this. Are there any other options to be complaint with the data collection that don't involve talking to a stranger that came to my door?

Ben-Stanley5 karma

How data is collected is completely variant depending on where you live. Sometimes it’s collected through your job, sometimes it’s through mail or digital sources, sometimes it’s in person. It totally depends.

As for official representation, the very first thing we are supposed to say is who we represent and physically display our ID badge. We also have huge bags and laptops which have official logos and stickers. We also give every person we talk to a physical copy of the Title 13 rights and laws before we ask any questions. (I actually have a big pad of those notice sheets and in my training I started copying it word for word so I could practice it in sign language and I actually got in trouble because copying that notice is illegal.)

You’re completely right that all of that can be fabricated, and I pray and hope it never is, so that is why all the other options are available. USUALLY confidential information only has to be collected orally if you fail to submit it through any of the other ways I listed above.

Vandechoz19 karma

What are your instructions regarding people who refuse to give you more information than the number of people in the home?

Because last time around the answer was, apparently, legal threats.

Ben-Stanley16 karma

So we haven’t gotten to the questionnaire portion of the census yet, we’re just getting information about addresses and housing units, so I can’t confidently say. What I can say is that the legal notice we give to citizens does state that you are required by law to respond to the Census under Title 13, US Code, sections 141 and 193. I don’t really know what, if any, legal consequences occur to those who refuse, but you can probably look up those codes to see the specifics.

Celtictussle5 karma

Oh boy, I wouldn't drop that on people if I were you.

Ben-Stanley3 karma

The only reason I gave such a specific answer is because all of that is what is said on the confidentiality notices that we have to physically give a copy to anyone we contact.

sooprvylyn1 karma

This. It's really easy for college aged kids doing this canvassing as a summer job to think it's a good idea to press the legal angle when people refuse to answer questions. If you run into hostile people who won't cooperate just leave and put a note on thier form and hand it in to your supervisor, let them deal with it. You don't need to put yourself at risk for a $15-20/hr job.

When I did it 20 years ago(as a kid in college for summer work) I ran into a few dangerous situations when I tried to press the legal part.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I don’t really ever plan to push legal threats on anyone given the position I’m in. Like you said, let the supervisors take care of that. But for the purpose of this AMA, I figure I can talk about it since people are asking. But I’m never ever ever gonna stick my foot in the door and be like “listen bub, you better tell me the answers or we’ll smack you with a $100 fine.” That’s only going to worsen the situation.

Also I think it’s for that reason that the confidentiality notices we hang out only state the consequences we, the census workers, face if we broke our oath. That way the threat if focused on us to protect your information, not on you to give it.

QueeLinx13 karma

Suppose a resident of 101 Nuttyname St sees that the resident of 104 Nuttyname St doesn't answer the door for the Address Canvasser. When the Address Canvasser knocks on the door at 101 Nuttyname St, the resident opens the door. After answering the Address Canvasser's questions, the resident says "I see Joe didn't open his door for you. May I tell you Joe subdivided his house? His tenants enter their Housing Unit through a back door."

Do you add Joe's rental unit to the address list?

Ben-Stanley17 karma

First of all, thank you for the very detailed and specific question!

And the answer is probably. In the address canvasing stage of the census, we sorta have to take clues like that to determine if there’s additional housing units. We were trained to look for additional mailboxes, power meters, satellite dishes, etc, and also to ask a “responsible source” such as a construction worker or postal worker. If I were in this exact hypothetical situation (and boy do I wish I was because Nuttyname St is one for the books), I would graciously thank the resident and then go back to 101 and knock on the back door to see if the tenant is home. We’re supposed to try every door, even if it’s a new address to us. If the tenant doesn’t answer, but I see proof that it is a subdivided house such as a mailbox or sign, then I add it for sure.

Bacchus19767 karma

I was a supervisor in 2010. Pretty solid gig for people in between jobs. Most of my field reps were college kids, all things considered it was pretty gratifying.

Have they made the process more digital to reduce the paper usage?

Ben-Stanley1 karma

My first day, I was given a laptop, some help pamphlets, and a few pads of copies of the confidentiality notices we give the citizens. That’s it. The laptop is how we did our training, how we clock in/out and submit our work availability, get maps of where we are surveying, and submit any information we collect. They said that the 2020 census will be the first to be done completely digitally (I’m assuming that means from the worker’s standpoint).

Also, I find it interesting you said it was mostly college students. In my training group, I had to have been the youngest there by about 40 years (the woman I did my first canvassing with was 80). But, mind you, that’s just a sampling of 10 workers among thousands.

yawetag126 karma

I applied for the same position in South Carolina. Haven't heard a thing good or bad. Should I be worried, or have they not hired everyone yet?

Ben-Stanley11 karma

I was offered the position more than 2 months ago and everyone (at least in the West/Virginia area) have already completed training and are in the field. So... I’m guessing they didn’t select you.

However, the Census is taken in phases and right now we’re just in phase one which lasts till October. Phase two starts in January. It’s possible they may reach out for more workers for phase 2.

yawetag124 karma

OK. I assumed it was all starting next year. Don't know why they didn't select me. It's not like I have anything negative and I was willing to work the evenings they needed. Oh well, maybe I'll hear something.

Ben-Stanley10 karma

Phase one is primarily collecting addresses and a lot of what we do is talking to managers of apartment complexes, homeless shelters, etc, and that requires working during the day. They probably need more evening workers for the later phases.

rivalarrival3 karma

I work nights. What do I have to do to keep you from bothering me during the day?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

Honestly I don’t know. Who you are and whether you work nights is not information that we have access to as field workers so we have no way to go about choosing which houses to visit which times of day. I wish I had a more helpful answer!

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Quick follow up: I’ve been address canvasing for a few weeks now and I’ve actually seen some people have signs on their door that says not to knock because people are sleeping. Technically I’m allowed to ignore that sign, but I’m a nice enough guy that if the address and other info I need is very apparent, I would just move on. Maybe try that?

Or, if you want to be REALLY helpful to your census worker, just put a note that says: “For the Census canvassers: My address is 123 Suchandsuch Ave, 12345. That is also the mailing address. There are no other housing units connected to the property. Please don’t knock as I work nights.” That is literally all the information we need at this stage of the census (which will end in October). I recognize that that may be a little strange to put on your front door, but that’s just a thought!

rivalarrival1 karma

If I'm putting up signs, they will be "Door answered with hostility."

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I mean, that’s several degrees better than the house I encountered as a missionary with a disembodied car hood leaning up against a tree with the words “COM CLOSE AND DIE” spray painted onto it.

Your sign would also be better than the sign on an apartment that said “Do not disturb if you know what’s good for you” with a skull an crossbones. And then a few weeks later we learned that the people living there ACTUALLY wanted to meet with missionaries. They said they just put that sign up because the wife’s ex was bothering them too much,

Rickyisnotcool3 karma

What do you do if someone doesn’t answer there door?

Ben-Stanley8 karma

At this stage in the census, we’re literally just collecting addresses. So if no one answers, we just make assumptions based on observations like numbers on the door, mailboxes, etc. If we can’t figure out the information, we just have to report it to a supervisor and it will probably be revisited a different day (I’m going to assume that’s exactly what will happen when we’re collecting the vital information next year).

All-TimeGringo2 karma

How does the Census plan to count people in temporary or transitional living situations? I'm thinking of children in juvenile detention, the sick and elderly in hospice care, long term mental health inpatients, etc. etc.

Ben-Stanley2 karma

Very good question, but I can only count it partially. Right now we are simply collecting addresses and living units so that we can then ask how many people live in those units. The way we do transitional situation is by getting the contact info of the owner/manager and then asking how many people COULD be staying there. How many beds the hospital has, how many students can live in the dorm building, how many hookups are at the RV park, etc.

TalkingBackAgain2 karma

How are you taught to deal with the more crazy demographic of voters who greet people ‘trespassing on their property’ with a hail of gun fire?

/I’m not even joking in the present climate of violence.

Ben-Stanley3 karma

Then we leave immediately. We are totally allowed to skip over a house if we feel endangered. What happens from there is up to my supervisor.

Now, because we are government employees, it’s completely in our right to ignore “no trespassing” and “no soliciting” signs, but we are also told to proceed with caution. But again, if we feel we are in danger, be it from the environmental of the property, guns, or unfriendly looking dogs, we are allowed to skip and have it taken care of by other means.

TalkingBackAgain6 karma

Because there is so much danger with guns involved: be very careful out there, take care of yourself. Make sure to have water on your person and have yourself an awesome census!

Ben-Stanley3 karma

Thank you for such a positive and supportive comment!

blancmusician2 karma

What will you do after the census is over?

Ben-Stanley9 karma

Find another job. I’m a college student so the census is just my part-time work while I’m in school.

miketeeeveee2 karma

What’s the penalty for lying to a census worker?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

A fine up to $500

JorahMormont422 karma

Anyone ever told you you look like Jon Lovitz? No offense meant about that by the way - I love Lovitz. Just seems like a strong resemblance.

Ben-Stanley2 karma

Haha nope, never gotten that one. Elvis and Jay Leno yes. Not Lovitz.

bestminipc1 karma

arent some of these ppl volunteers?

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I mean not that I'm aware of, but I'm not a supervisor, I could be wrong. Regardless of if you're paid, though, you have to take an oath stating you will respect the confidentiality associated with the job.

[deleted]1 karma


Ben-Stanley1 karma

I wish I had an answer for you, I really do, but this is my first time doing it and I’ve been working in the field for less than a week so I don’t have any notable stories yet. 😕

squid50s1 karma

How exactly do you (and presumably many others) go about collecting data of millions and millions of people?

Ben-Stanley9 karma

That’s a pretty vague question, but to answer it generally: the census is taken once a decade, but in all the years in between, the full-time, permanent employees of the bureau do an incredible job setting up the computer program we use which makes our jobs as efficient as possible. The program tells us ahead of time exactly which blocks to do and even the fastest order to survey the homes, estimated data based on previous censuses, etc.

But, you know, most of the important information is collected via mail and citizens answering by their own means. So that helps.

diegojones41 karma

Do you have appropriate clothing?

Ben-Stanley6 karma

I mean, we aren’t given any clothing if that’s what you’re asking. We’re just told to dress business casual and have appropriate clothes for the weather. (A frequently have to walk on unpaved areas, along railroad tracks and rivers, so we have to wear the right shoes and such.)

diegojones41 karma

Nah, I'm just asking about dressing. People tend to think less is better in the heat, but you need a great big hat and really light clothing. Winter is layers.

Ben-Stanley5 karma

You it it right on the head. Right now in the summer, I usually wear very light khaki pants and an untucked polo. A lot of the retired ladies I work with always wear a hat. I imagine I’ll be wearing a lot of layers come January

coh_phd_who1 karma

I know I'm late and I also know that you are just taking addresses at this point for people who don't answer some other way; but have they given you any instructions for what to do if there is a question on the census that you feel is unethical, immoral, unconstitutional, or otherwise you have issues asking?

Ben-Stanley1 karma

At this point, no. If we are bombarded with questions like this, we just have to smile and insist that all we are doing right now is getting your address and nothing else. I imagine we will get a whole bunch more training before we ask the survey questions in the spring.

FriendsWitBenedicts1 karma

As you are someone who’s gone door before, will you carry pepper spray or any other self defense item?

Ben-Stanley5 karma

Personally I’m not planning to because I live and work in the rural south, but if I’m assigned to a city or area infamously dangerous, I might.

That being said, we are completely allowed to skip a house if we sense danger or are threatened. What happens from there is up to my supervisor.

Edit: I just remembered the part of my training that said I’m not allowed to carry a firearm on me while I’m representing the census... I oughta check my manual about pepper spray.

MerelyApostasy1 karma

Will there be a religious affiliation portion of this census?

QueeLinx8 karma

No. According to the Census Bureau's website

Public Law 94-521 prohibits us from asking a question on religious affiliation on a mandatory basis


Ben-Stanley3 karma

Thank you, I didnt know about this FAQ page

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I actually don’t know what questions will be on the survey yet, we’re just doing address canvassing at the moment.

mantis_bog1 karma

What's the procedure for alerting ICE when you find an undocumented immigrant?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

I can’t really give an answer but I can’t even confirm whether or not we alert ICE at all. That’s not part of my particular job. I answered an earlier question regarding immigration policy.

QueeLinx4 karma

Under no circumstances should an Address Canvasser call ICE.

Cuccinelli: We Do Not See Names, Addresses of People Who Are Not Citizens on Census 08Jul19


Ben-Stanley1 karma

Exactly. My job as an address canvasser has nothing to do with that.

gogoamigo5621 karma

How can I volunteer to do this for free?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

I don't think that's an option, but if you want to call a regional office to inquire, the list of numbers is here: https://www.census.gov/about/regions.html?sec_ak_reference=18.6c76d317.1565988497.8f72433

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Think of it this way: if we left it up to the citizens to submit information, we wouldnt any anywhere close to an accurate count. Have you seen how many citizen ACTUALLY go out to the polls to vote? If we left the census count to a voluntary survey, it would be ridiculously inaccurate. Doing it by hand ensures that as much information as can reasonably be assembled is. Yes it's a little tedious, but this is one faction of the government that NEEDS to be as accurate at possible because the statistics created from the census determine how many seats in the Senate each state gets, budgeting decisions, etc.

B3aRCats31 karma

How long do you typically knock before you give up and decide they arent home/coming to the door?

trying to figure out how long I have to act like im not home when someone is knocking on the door

Ben-Stanley2 karma

This is just me: my dad always taught me to ring the doorbell, count to 10, then if you dont hear anyone coming, knock, wait another 15.

Just don't make the mistake someone did when I was a missionary and pretend not to be home but then let her barking dogs out the back door

ruinevil1 karma

What device do you guys have? In 2010 the census workers were using devices that had 1/10th the processing power of the iPhones from that era that cost $1000 dollars each.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Just a very standard, basic windows laptop.

zig_anon1 karma

Sorry if you already answered but what is your salary and expected hours per week? What were the qualifications needed?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

Someone on here provided a link that described pay ranges and stuff like that, because I’m sure it varies by region. My job specifically, as a field worker, is expected to do at least 20 hours a week but no more than 40.

mightbefamous1821 karma

How do I avoid having to talk to someone in person and just answer all the questions online?

Ben-Stanley3 karma

I honestly can't give you a definitive answer because we haven't gotten information about how the questionnaire will be distributed yet, but in general I would just say that you fill it out as soon as you are given the opportunity if you want to avoid human interaction.

Marozia82111 karma

People are strange...How do to feel about getting up close and personal with us wild Americans?

I'm from Alabama and applied 20 years ago. I didn't get it and that might have actually been a good thing!

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I mean, like I said a few times earlier, I have 2 years of experience knocking doors from being a pizza driver, DoorDasher, and missionary. So it's nothing I'm not used to.

But personally I feel like immersing yourself in a culture you're unfamiliar with a massively important way to understand the people around you better. You call it getting up close to wild Americans, I call it getting to know and love some subcultures I may not understand.

revotfel1 karma

Who is responsible for the horrendous "iCount" slogan?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

I have actually never heard that phrase before

revotfel1 karma

Hmm, it might just be an Arizona thing related to the census. They're trying to slogan it as iCount. I've seen some posters, its awful

Ben-Stanley3 karma

Yeah I'm guessing each district of census offices advertise employment differently

kerowax1 karma

800? That make zero sense

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Yeah I got that number from a article from march. It’s in the hundreds of thousands now.

breakone9r1 karma

So, if I don't reply, but have a fenced yard with a large, seemingly aggressive dog inside said fence, you still gonna come knock?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

Nope. We actually had an entire training on what to do if we encounter dogs. In the 2010 census, the third most common injury census workers had were dog bites. Our manual even goes so far as to describe dog’s body language so we know if they are actually threatening or just annoying. Regardless, if they look aggressive, are barking nonstop, and are even close to the door, we are told to avoid it entirely and tell our supervisor.

guantamanera1 karma

Are you gonna ask me if I am a US citizen?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

We haven’t yet received the questions that will be on the survey. Right now we are just gathering addresses and canvassing housing units. So I can’t confidently say. As of right now, I know literally as much as you - based on whatever articles I find on google.

ckhk31 karma

What was your process for getting hired? I applied but never heard anything from them.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Literally I just got a phone call asking what hours I can typically work and then a low-down of the job requirements. Then they processed a background check and a few weeks later got a call offering the job.

If you havent heare from them then either A. They didnt hire you or B. They might hire you when the next phase of the census occurs in January

darkangelx0 karma

git off mah lawn? But can I pay the $100 fine and tell you to F off right away?

Ben-Stanley3 karma

Sure, you absolutely can. I mean I prefer you didn’t, but you can. But as you said, you’ll be fined.

Also, I’m pretty sure slapping a question mark at the end of your cliched statement is breaking the subreddit’s rules, but that’s none of my business.

HawkeyeNation0 karma

Could you please find a quicker way? I’m tired of you guys coming into my house for an hour plus and then someone else calling me a bajillion times to ask how you were.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I’m just a field employee. If I have any higher of a ranking in the census maybe I could give you an answer.

Sir_Flagrant0 karma

What will you be doing if you find illegal immigrants when you are knocking on doors?

Ben-Stanley1 karma

As far as how or if we count them, I can’t confidently say since we aren’t at that stage of the survey. I know there’s a lot of drama going on as to whether or not we will ask if you are a citizen but I don’t actually know the survey questions yet.

In our training we were given a history of the census and how it was used in unfair ways in the past and how it has progressed to be as inclusive as possible. So we know why it is important to count every person living in the US.

[deleted]0 karma


Ben-Stanley5 karma

Dude, I’m just the guy who wants to know how many people live in your house. I have nothing to do with the presidential race or political elections in general.

giveuspocketses0 karma

Why is it mandatory to answer the census?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

The simplest and easiest answer is that census data determines how many seats in senate each state will have. It also is crucial to determining how money is distributed among cities, counties, territories, and tribes. Interstate highways are funded based on census data.

As I expressed in an earlier answer, census date is only ever disclosed in the form of statistics, and those statistics are what make these decisions. Don’t think of it as profiling or targeting any certain demographic, but let’s say there’s a much larger German-speaking population in an area than 2010; the census would determine that and possibly cause decisions like ensuring there more German speakers are representing the local government or include a budget to make documents, etc translated into German for those citizens.

Ghana_Mafia0 karma

Lol.... What qualifications do you need for your position?

Ben-Stanley11 karma

Hardly any. We just need to know how to use the computer programs, be physically capable of doing a lot of traveling and walking, and take an oath upon hiring swearing to protect the information we obtain. I’m in my early twenties and a woman I was training with was in her 80s. They hire a wide variety of workers, so long as you can commit to 20+ hours a week.

Ghana_Mafia2 karma

1. How will you handle people that don't care to participate in your questioning? They open their front door and they don't want to answer your questions. WHAT DO YOU DO?....Do you skip them and go to the next house?

2. How do you tackle highrise apartment buildings in the city?....seems like a tough task.....Do you knock on every single apartment door?.....

3. Will you be using pen/paper/scantron or is the government supplying you guys with tablets and handheld devices?

Ben-Stanley10 karma

  1. If we can’t get someone to answer, we simply report it to the supervisor and he/she takes care of it. I don’t know what happens from there.

  2. So right now all we’re doing is collecting addresses, and we have a completely different system for apartments. We are sent out during the day when we can talk to an apartment manager and request to look at a list of apartment numbers and other living quarters. Very often, apartments are split, combined, renamed, added, or turned into a non-residential unit (like a laundry room) and we need to make note of any changes that have happened since 2010. If we can’t speak to a manager (or it’s a small complex without an office), then we have to walk around and take note of every apartment number.

  3. The 2020 census is the first census to be done completely digitally. We were issued a laptop equipped with SIM card on the first day of training and all of our work (including training, clocking in, and reporting) are done on it. If you ever encounter a census worker, more than likely they will be holding their laptop. We were even trained on what to do if our government computer is stolen.

Ghana_Mafia2 karma



How do you get compensated?

A) By amount of data collected? Is there a certain amount of data you must collect to receive payment? Like a quota of some sort?

B) hourly?

C) Salary?

Ben-Stanley4 karma

B. It's hourly pay. We choose our schedules so long as we work more than 20 hours a week but no more than 8 hours a day. We submit which times of day we can work and for how many hours a few days ahead of time and the program then selects which areas to work based on our availability.

Ben-Stanley4 karma

Oh, and we're paid for travel time and reimbursed for parking fees and tolls. It's pretty sweet.

PersonalPi1 karma

Welp... gotta ask... what do you do if it’s stolen?

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Report it to the census technology hotline immediately (unless we’ve been hurt, in which case 911 first, then hotline). I wouldn’t know what happens from there, but the census laptops do have a SIM card in them and use GPS capabilities pretty constantly, so it wouldn’t be that hard to track where it’s gone.

drkirienko-2 karma

How badly does the government have to melt down before you're the one who is in charge?

Ben-Stanley1 karma

I’m going to assume that you’re just being rude and making politically charged statements, but let me clarify that I’m not in charge of anything that could even resemble some kind of government leadership.

JReddit6-3 karma

have you ever been bribed by EZIC?

Ben-Stanley2 karma

I have no idea what that is and have no desire to.

TheFirstAndrew1 karma

Video game reference.

Ben-Stanley1 karma

Got it. Not a gamer.

kamewoni-7 karma

What.. gives you the right?

Ben-Stanley6 karma

To be a census taker? I literally had to swear an oath before I could even clock in my first day of training to protect and keep confidential any information I obtain, which applies not only until this census is done but for the rest of my life.

OkChuyPunchIt-21 karma

how long have you been this creepy looking?

Ben-Stanley13 karma

I blame genetics for my dark eyes. So since birth.

How long have you been treating this sub like it’s r/RoastMe?